The “magnificent six” according to Cruising World

imageWhat are the boats of the year for the prestigious American magazine Cruising World? After the Annapolis boat show, an independent jury embarked on a 10-day sea trials and inspections aboard the 19 “nominated” boats between 32 and 57 feet. After testing and a lengthy comparison, the Gunboat 55 won the local boat of the year award, while the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 grabbed the same award but as an imported boat. As best mid-size cruiser the palm went to the Beneteau Oceanis 35, to the Salona 44 instead the award for best racer-cruiser. The Garcia Exploration 45 won the title for best cruising boat under 50 feet, the Dufour 560 Grand Large over 50 feet. Let’s find out more about the winners.

Gunboat 55LOCAL BOAT OF THE YEAR – GUNBOAT 55
Here is one of the most aggressive habitable catamarans on the market. A characteristic, that of sportiness, which has been inherent in the shipyard’s DNA since the earliest models. This is already clear just by looking at the profile of the hulls, which are particularly “angular.” The glazed superstructure (partly retractable when sailing in good weather) gives the wheelhouse area and the saloon incredible light. Just the position of the wheelhouse turns out to be peculiar, in the middle of the boat and fully sheltered. Data: length. 17.35 m; width. 7.62 m; draught. 0.61/2.80 m; disl. 12500 kg. www.gunboat.com

imageIMPORTED BOAT OF THE YEAR – SUN ODYSSEY 349
Marc Lombard’s design is available with two different drafts (1.98 or 1.49 meters). The new Sun Odyssey 349 features a rather sporty line, characterized by a low deckhouse where maneuvers run, thus leaving the walkways clear. The shipyard chose two rudder wheels in the cockpit-a choice aimed at making the transition between the stern and cockpit more comfortable and following current trends from shipyards around the world. The mainsail sheet is put back on the deckhouse (no trasto). The Sun Odyssey 349 is available with two or three cabins. In the two-cabin version, we find the classic master cabin in the bow, with a second cabin in the stern and the bathroom with separate shower. Separating the forward cabin from the saloon should, according to rumors, be a double-hinged door, a solution that increases the feeling of space when going below deck. Data: length. 10.34 m; width. 3.44 m; draught. 1.98/1.49 m; disl. 5,340 kg. www.jeanneau.com

imageBEST MID-SIZE CRUISER – OCEANIS 35
The French shipyard is focusing heavily on this new philosophy in its Oceanis range, which is to create boats with transformable layouts according to the owner’s needs. As seen last year with its big brother (Oceanis 38), this model is also available in Daysailer, Weekender and Cruiser versions, with open space interiors or classic cabins. In terms of maneuvering, the shipyard has opted for ease of operation and handling even with a small or inexperienced crew. Data: length. 11.50 m; wd. 3.99 m; disl. 6095 kg. www.beneteau.it

salona-44BEST RACER-CRUISER – SALONA 44
The Salona 44 picks up the legacy of the progenitor Salona 45. A construction that paid close attention to the sail plan weight ratio to keep intact the performance and safety characteristics typical of salona. Spacious and comfortable interiors that can also offer 4 cabins and 2 bathrooms for long cruises and family cruises. A performance cruiser born for the Mediterranean that races in the ocean. Data: length. 13.50 m; wd. 4.19 m; draught. 2.10/2.55 m; disl. 9,300 kg. www.salonaitalia.it

imageBEST FULLSIZE CRUISER UNDER 50′ – GARCIA EXPLORATION 45
Aluminum takes the lead in the construction of the Garcia Exploration 45, but what is most striking is the presence of polyethylene foam, which provides remarkable thermal and sound insulation in all conditions. This hull can then rely on a series of watertight bulkheads and hatches, increasing safety in case of collisions or water ingress. The helmsman has the ability to steer the boat from the inside due to the presence of a 270-degree window. Jimmy Cornell, the father of the ARC, had a hand in its design. Data: length. 14.88 m; width. 4.43 m; disl. 14,100 kg. www.sailaway.it – Garcia Italy

imageBEST FULLSIZE CRUISER OVER 50′ – DUFOUR 560 GL
The French shipyard’s hull, designed by Umberto Felci, brings to its 17.15 meters (by 5.05 meters wide) some of the features that have made the 500 a success, while optimizing them. Already at the bow, we find a fixed dolphin hatch, which incorporates the anchor snout and allows for improved performance with gennaker or Zero tails, which have their point of mura here. In the stern, however, here is the large fold-down mirror, which conceals within it a garage that can accommodate a tender without disassembling the outboard, simply by deflating the bow tube section. In the cockpit, that “treat” of an outdoor barbecue could not be missed. The sail plan is simplified with the presence of a self-tacking jib or genoa at 107% overlap. The interiors are modular: particularly striking are the many options provided for the master cabin: with a separate bath and shower, with a single bath and a sofa, or you can opt to “break” it into two cabins. At the far bow there is then the possibility of having the sailor cabin. Overall, they range from a four-cabin version (plus a sailor) to only two large double cabins plus the sailor cabin. Data: length. 17.15 m; width. 5.05 m; fish. 2.50 m; displacement. 17,625 kg; sup. vel. 152.70 square meters. www.dufour-yachts.com

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